In Part 1 of our Best of 2020 Awards we covered our top picks for Nordic movies and TV series from 2020, as well as top talent we saw emerging that are ones to watch out for in 2021.
Now in Part 2 we direct our attention to music and the great artists, tracks and music videos we have discovered in 2020, many of whom we have interviewed. We can’t wait to discover more next year, so please do get in touch to be considered for a feature in 2021.
Best Nordic Album
- Damen – Sagrada Familia
- Gugusar – Listen to This
- Peter Sandberg – Återvända
- Fatgyver – Small Songs That My Samplers Sing
- Yune – Agog
We discovered our winner, Sweden’s Damen, late in the year but once we heard their album it has been on repeat for the remainder of the year! It is one of those albums you can happily listen to all over again the minute it finishes and with each time listen you deliberate which track is your favourite – that is when you know you have an album of the year. The fact that they are a little-known band is a travesty and we hope they get more of a spotlight next year as they begin work on their second album.
We became fascinated by the incredibly talented Icelandic artist Gugusar and her debut album Listen To This Twice. It is such an exciting piece of work showcasing her as a great talent to look out for in the future (bearing in mind she is still in college)!
Peter Sandberg‘s Återvända helped us wind down in the challenging times we have faced this year whilst Fatgyver‘s new album kept us motivated with his trademark beats and samples (it came as no surprise that he is one of our most listened to artists this year).
Best Nordic Track
- Brimheim – Exquisite Bliss
- KO:MI – We Said We Didn’t Know But We Knew
- Damen – Americana
- Axel Flovent – How Can I
- Janus Rasmussen – Blóð
Brimheim is a serious talent to watch out for in 2021 – described as a bridge between Florence Welch and PJ Harvey, her sound is influenced by her love for grunge music. Exquisite Bliss borders on a more pop direction but it works, it works so well, it is absolute perfection in our ears and we can’t stop listening to it.
We’ll be honest, the moment we first heard the opening to KO:MI’s We Said We Didn’t Know But We Know we were a little unsure. However, we couldn’t have been so wrong – this song is so magical, heart breaking, and entrancing – it ended up being one of our most played tracks of the year in the little time after we we discovered it. What a talent!
There is no surprise that Damen‘s opening track and single Americana is up in our top 5 – the song that started our journey with Damen and a cracking opening track to their album.
Very early in the year we got to speak to Iceland’s Axel Flovent it was one of our first video interviews that was made all the more challenging with a slight time delay, but we got through it and in doing so got to know this incredibly talented artist. One track from his upcoming album is the beautiful How Can I. When times got tough this song carried us through, it was certainly one of Alex’s most ‘sing out loud’ songs in Nordic Watchlist HQ. Listen to it – if only for the most beautiful of lyrics: “And I want to be there for you, but how can I, how can I, when I am never there for myself.” In a year where we have all struggled so much with our own mental health this comforted us on every listen.
Finally Janus Rasmussen’s Blóð helped provide some chilled beats to keep us focused and steer through projects without losing concentration – there is a also a neat video of drone footage over the stunning Faroe Islands which is worth checking out!
Nordic Watchlist 2020 Playlist!
There are SO many more songs and artists – in fact we got to know over 60 artists this year – we thought the best thing to do was create a playlist with our favourite tracks from each artist. Enjoy!
Best Nordic Music Video
- Skoffin -SÆTAR STELPUR
- Daughters of Reykjavik – Thirsty Hoes
- Mary Anne’s Polar Rig – Crash
- We Live In Trenches – Tumult
- Greta – Again
Since we started this website one thing we have really enjoyed getting back into is watching music videos – having grown up in the days of MTV, it was nice to reconnect with that nostalgic feeling. Artists tend to put a lot of work into their videos and some of the videos produced by the artists we have interviewed have been absolutely outstanding.
There is something so fun and wacky about Skoffin’s SÆTAR STELPUR music video that it has just stuck with us. Perhaps it’s the shots of Reykjavik, a hot dog stand, our need and lust to get back to Iceland triggered as we watch the band’s lead singer be carted around the city in a shopping trolley.
Very close behind is another favourite Icelandic band of ours – Daughters of Reykjavik – with their music video for Thirsty Hoes, shot as a zoom call which is very 2020. Always coming up with clever and creative ideas, this is such a fun watch. And with so much going on in those 9 squares, you can watch it multiple times and notice new things each time.
Sweden’s Mary Anne’s Polar Rig music video for Crash has Wes Anderson-esque fonts and the old-school vibe to its music video that made us think back to those MTV 2 days (showing our age a bit) with Zane Lowe.
Meanwhile the excellent video to We Live In Trenches‘ track Tumult has lead singer Ulf swaying and snarling at us for four and half minutes and it is hypnotic and angry (kind of what we needed in 2020).
Finally, there was Greta‘s Again music video that just oozes 80’s retro with some fantastic outfits.
Got a video you think we have criminally overlooked? Let us know!
AND that is a wrap for a very challenging year! Here’s to 2021 and moving forward to a new and more positive experience for everyone. Thank you so much for all the support!